In the last few years Burning Man has grown to mythical status as a mecca for creativity, self-expression, and a cant-find-anywhere-else sense of wild bliss.

As their website describes it, “Burning Man isn’t your usual festival. It’s a vibrant participatory metropolis generated by its citizens. Once a year, tens of thousands of people gather in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert to create Black Rock City, a temporary metropolis dedicated to community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance. In this crucible of creativity, all are welcome.”

Having grown from a gathering of just 35 people in 1986 to over 66,000 in 2015, the number of first time “burners” is growing exponentially each year.

To help us, the uninitiated, navigate the playa, I asked my friend Lynn to share her advice for first time burners:

  1. Honour & Respect The 10 Principles
  2. Burning Man is built on ten principles that everyone abides by while on the playa. These are not suggestions; they are the very fabric of the festival. Remember this isn’t Lollopalloza, it’s not about music or art or drugs (though it does have all of these things). It’s a community, a family of like-minded individuals who deeply value and imbue these principles. Every single first time burner MUST whole-heartedly buy-in to, and operate in alignment with, this value system. The strength and pervasiveness of these principles is how the spirit and intention of the event has survived all these years.

    My Advice: Know the principles. Know how to embody them. Be prepared to demonstrate them 24/7 on the playa.

    Burning Man - Black Rock City
    Photo: Duncan Rawl

  3. Burning Man Is What You Want It To Be
  4. Burning Man has been accepting tens of thousands of new people (like me!) every year. Because of this growth, some things have changed since 1986 and some say, quite nostalgically, that it’s just not what it used to be. Things change and evolve over time, often reflecting changes in society at large… and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. If you are looking for that raw, alternative, hippie movement, you can still find it at Burning Man, just surround yourself with the right people. If you want an authentic experience then create one for yourself!

    People always ask me if Burning Man is all about the drugs. And the answer is only if you want it to be.

    Undoubtedly, people are doing drugs, and some things are catered for those who are tripping, but that is only one aspect of the overall experience. In fact, if drugs are your only concern at Burning Man then you’re probably missing out. There are hundreds of workshops and talks that include everything under the sun: sex, personal growth and understanding, human connection and acceptance, meditation, spiritual guidance, and more. The playa can offer whatever you are looking for.

    My Advice: Surround yourself with the right people. Open your mind. Don’t limit yourself.

    Burning Man - Yoga
    Photo: Lynn Strybosch

  5. You Are Exactly Where You Need To Be
  6. This was advice that was given to me before I went to my first Burning Man and it really stuck with me. Burning Man is way bigger (and maybe crazier) than you could ever imagine. Frankly, it can be overwhelming the first time. Not to mention that there is so much to do at any given moment that the pull to constantly be moving and exploring is huge.

    My Advice: Relax, slow down, enjoy your current surroundings. Trust that you are exactly where you need to be.

    Burning Man - Laying On Playa
    Photo: Gleb Tarassenko

  7. BE YOURSELF & Follow Your Heart
  8. Burning Man is one of the only places in the world where you can both truly discover the depths of your being and find the courage to express it freely (and be loved for it). Embrace that. Don’t do something because you think you have to.

    My Advice: Do what feels right. Honour your true self. Don’t be afraid to follow your heart.

    Yoga Pose At Burning Man
    Photo: Lynn Strybosch

  9. Trust In The Magic Of The Playa
  10. This one is a little far fetched if you have never been, or have a skeptical soul, but I encourage you to surrender to the playa. I can’t fully explain it, but there is something magical that happens when 70,000 people go to one place with open minds to create an environment focused on love and non-judgment. It’s like everyone starts to operate on a different wavelength and synchronicity becomes the norm.

    My Advice: Trust in the playa. Allow yourself to surrender. Be part of the magic.

    Playa - Burning Man 2015
    Photo: Robert Wash